V-ball Knockouts open tonight
The Co-operators General Insurance Senior Volleyball Knockout Competition serves off tonight at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex with unpredictable being the watchword.
Three women’s matches will be staged with champions Rockets playing Carlton at 6:30 p.m. while Warrens meet Toners at the same time. The other game pits Club United against Chargers at eight and the lone men’s game will be held at that time with The Juniors taking on Progressive.
The men’s line-up contains six teams in holders Deacons, Chargers, Progressive, Cawmere, Foundation United and the Juniors. Deacons, Chargers, Rockets, Toners, Club United, Carlton and league queens Warrens make up the women’s competitors.
Shifts in the off-season have created some worries for the serious contenders with Deacons men being expected to again battle last year’s losing finalists and league champions Chargers for the titles.
However, it is harder to determine the women’s challengers as this division is getting weaker across the clubs and the teams are more on par.
A serious motorcycle injury to Daran Gill could keep him sidelined for some time, but Deacons, with the young talent of Kyle Brown, Klodie Thompson and Ronald Rice combined with Jamaal Nedd, will have an edge.
A fully-fit Mark Lewis will want to test that edge for Chargers, with Romel Agard, national captain Alain London and junior skipper Ammuniki Wood hoping to compensate for a number of departures.
Ironically, while Chargers continue to raid Foundation’s stocks with the latest capture being Leshon Alexander, Damien Danzell has opted to play in a lower division and Dwayne Howell has shown no interest in suiting up. It is uncertain how much an impact youngsters Carlos Cyrus, Stephen Packer and Attiba Best will make for Chargers.
Progressive’s veterans Renier Grace and Fabian Cox will need Akeem Payne to do more than talk the game to prove that, unlike Cawmere and Foundation, they are more than party spoilers.
Cawmere normally lose their setters to studies or migration but this time Ramon Blades has travelled only as far as Foundation.
Blades will be short of attackers at Foundation, while whoever takes up the setter’s role for Cawmere will have the likes of Shawn Simpson, Raffael Lovell and Gavin Brewster who still have some attacking potency.
The developmental Juniors, with the ever-improving Jabarry Goodridge at the helm, will hope to create some upsets.
In the Women’s division, Rockets’ hopes of a repeat will hang on the performances of professionals Shari Matthews and Anicia Wood as well as how long they remain in the island. The departure of the steady Lisa Austin for Warrens could also affect them.
In addition to Austin, Warrens have captured six-footer Annette Chapman from Deacons and have reactivated former national setter Tarah Mayers to link forces with Anthazia Mason, Talya Layne and multi-talented Rhe-Ann Niles and Jeneice Clarke.
Last season Chargers struggled without St Lucian Dania Hamilton and this year, she has signed on to play for a planned team from UWI. Deacons have scholarship graduates De-Ann Smith and Abeje Carrington who will need to match strides with Fabia Greaves, Julia Lewis and a number of developing talents to bring consistency.
Shennell Pooler and leading youngsters like junior national captain Ashley Marshall and Tia Jones do not suggest a rebirth of Toners, while Carlton and Club United do not have the personnel to inspire hopes of top placings in the knockout or the league.